Ranked Oregon, UCLA To Finish 'Under' In Pac-12 Showdown

Isaac Hamilton UCLA

Wednesday, December 28, 2016 2:26 PM GMT

Ranked teams colliding to begin the Pac-12 schedule? Sign me up for this showdown that finds No. 2 as UCLA small favorites on the NCAA basketball odds at the No. 21 Oregon Ducks on Wednesday night.

Sometimes the schedule works out perfectly. Take this evening, for example, when the Pac-12 slate gets underway with the Bruins, long the standard bearers for the league, traveling up to Oregon to take on a Ducks squad that was projected to be the team to beat in the conference this season.

The battle between ranked teams begins a little after 9 p.m. ET with ESPN2 carrying the contest from Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene. The No. 2 Bruins have drawn the chalk line with Bookmaker listing Steve Alford's side at -2½ for the early showdown. The 160-point total is one of the highest on the Hump Day board.

Both Lineups Missing A Key Player

UCLA (13-0 straight up, 10-3 against the spread) has been relentless on the offensive end of the floor so far this season, with the Bruins tops in the country averaging nearly 96 points per game and also at the top of the charts shooting an amazing 55% from the field. Despite all that scoring, their last three games and six of the last eight, finished 'under' the NCAA basketball odds.

A string of nine straight spread beaters was stopped last week at home vs. Western Michigan when the 82-68 triumph wasn't nearly enough to cover the -30 spread. The Bruins aren't expected to have junior center Thomas Welsh on the floor for a fifth consecutive game, the 7-footer still nursing a sore knee.

Oregon (11-2 SU, 4-7 ATS) got off to a slow start with a couple of losses in its first four trips to the floor, but the Ducks have since rebounded to win nine in a row. Dana Altman's gang has one of the better defenses in the land, holding opponents to under 64 PPG (30th) on just 37.7% shooting from the field (18th). The Ducks are expected to miss leading scorer Chris Boucher for a third straight contest, the senior out of Montreal listed as questionable with an ankle injury.

Visitors & 'Under' Have Enjoyed Recent Success

As is the case with a lot of Pac-12 rivalries, UCLA owns a sizeable advantage in the series with 86 victories in 120 meetings. Oregon, however, has current bragging rights by winning and covering both clashes last season. The Ducks, in fact, have covered the spread in eight of the last 11 contests -- with the visiting teams taking four of the last five. 'Under' has been the way to play totals in the tilts, the final failing to reach the mark in five consecutive matchups.

Not only do the Ducks begin the conference fixture with this visit from UCLA, they have to get right back to work two days from now when the unbeaten USC Trojans come to Eugene. I am tempted to take Oregon straight up on the moneyline, which is about a +125 play, but with both Welsh and Boucher questionable tonight will settle on the 'under' for my free NCAA basketball pick. My season record is 17-15-1 (+0.50).

NCAAB Free Pick: 'Under' 160

Best Line Offered: BookMaker

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